MLB Bytes: Baseball screws up instant replay

2013-11-14T17:30:00Z 2013-11-15T09:12:49Z MLB Bytes: Baseball screws up instant replayBernie Miklasz bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com stltoday.com

Quick reaction to the news of the day coming from the Major League Baseball owners' meetings: 

Unfortunately, MLB is moving ahead with its foolish, proposed system for expanded use of instant replay in 2014.

Hey, I'm in favor of taking full advantage of the available technology to get the calls right and have games decided fairly.

I love the idea of replay as an umpiring tool. 

I hate the idea of making it a gimmick.

But I see no reason why MLB insists on turning the new system into a Japanese game show in which contestants (managers) are each given a maximum of two replay challenges per game. I see no reason why a manager will forfeit their second replay challenge if they're wrong on their first challenge.

The objective here should be to make sure that all of the calls are the correct calls. Short of that, this is pretty much a charade that takes most of the heat off the umpires and transfers it to the managers.

Instead of umpires being scrutinized and feeling pressure, the managers will draw most of the attention, with fans and media ripping the managers for using, not using, or wasting their replay challenges. Don't managers have enough to worry about during games? Aren't they already ripped frequently enough during games for their strategy decisions?

Poor Mike Matheny. Instead of hiring a second hitting coach to replace Bengie Molina, he's going to have to hire a Replay Coach.

All kidding aside ...

Instead of holding the umpires accountable, managers will absorb much of the heat in the new system. And that's ludicrous. 

Someone explain: why should the umpires be given a free pass here?

And why just get some of the calls right when you have the technology to get all of them right?

Earth to Bud Selig ... 

I guess this is understandable in a way.

You see, MLB is trying to ape the NFL, the most popular sports league in North America. This system is based on the NFL way of replay. 

Tony La Russa — a member of the three-man committee that devised this system — has been spending too much time hanging out with Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Ron Wolf, Jim Harbaugh and other present or former NFL head coaches and executives that are charter members of the “Friends of Tony” Club.

(The other committee members were Joe Torre and John Schuerholz; I have no idea what happened here because all three of these guys are intelligent and respected baseball men. Why did these wise men succumb to the game-show mentality?)

Instead of staging an absurd Kabuki theater, MLB should just put an eye-in-the-sky supervisor in a booth upstairs to take a look at close or questionable calls. He'd buzz the crew chief to pause the game, quickly review the play, and then issue a ruling on the call.

(One encouraging note came from the owners' meeting: According to MLB executive Rob Manfred, umpires will be allowed to initiate replays even after a manager has used his two challenges. That's good _ as long as umpires actually check themselves on questionable calls instead of looking the other way.) 

If MLB insists on revealing its insecurity by trying to mimic the system used by the NFL, the baseball brains behind this initiative should have adopted a smarter approach and use the college football method of replay review.

Isn't TLR buddies with any prominent college football coaches?

Thanks for reading …

— Bernie

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Bernie Miklasz

You've read Bernie Miklasz in the Post-Dispatch since 1989. Now check out a new video "Breakfast with Bernie" every weekday morning. You'll also see more "Bernie Bytes" around the clock as he posts quick-hit commentaries on a variety of topics.

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